Image Credit: Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The Orioles will lose their most consistent starting pitcher for at least 3-4 weeks.  Jason Hammel will undergo arthroscopic surgery to remove loose cartilage in his right knee.  The O’s starter left his start on Saturday when he heard his knee pop.

The injury is one that Hammel could pitch through and elect to have surgery during the offseason, but the pain became too much and he decided to scope out the knee now.  He hopes to return in 3-4 weeks, but initial reports indicated that he may not return until September.

Obviously Orioles fans are wishing Hammel a healthy recovery.  His story has been one of the best in Birdland this season and the fan base is hopeful that the Orioles will still be in contention by the time he returns.

The best case scenario for the Orioles right now is that they keep their heads above water in the AL East — they currently sit five games above .500 in second place behind the Yankees — and get back a fresh Hammel with a month remaining in the season.  With one consistent starter remaining in the rotation, it’s tough to think that will be possible with the current roster.

Brian Matusz and his 5.42 ERA will likely replace Hammel in the rotation.  Zach Britton and Chris Tillman will also likely be called upon during Hammel’s DL stint.

The O’s could always add that Ryan Dempster/Wandy Rodriguez/Zach Greinke while Hammel is out, but how much will it matter at this point?  The O’s are 17-23 since May 26, but they face the Twins for four games and the Indians for three after concluding their series with the Tigers this afternoon.

I’m glad I’m not the one making the important decisions.

Zach Wilt is the Founding Editor of You can follow him on Twitter @zamwi or send him an email: